Tens of thousands of revelers attending the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert have been asked to shelter in place and conserve food and water on Saturday after a rainstorm turned the site into mud.
The entrance will be closed for the remainder of the event, which began on Aug. 27 and was scheduled to end on Monday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Black Rock Desert where the festival is being held.
More than one-half inch of rain is believed to have fallen on Friday at the festival site, located about 110 miles (177 kilometres) north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said. At least another quarter of an inch of rain is expected Sunday.
Organizers urged festivalgoers to conserve their food, water and fuel.
Officials haven’t yet said when the entrance was expected to be opened again.
“Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa,” the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the agency that manages the land on which the event takes place, said in a statement. “More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa.”
Thick, pasty mud surrounded Paul Reder’s RV on Saturday afternoon, as scattered patches of blue tried to break through the grey cloud cover above him.
“Fortunately we’re in a fairly big camp with a lot of supplies,” Reder told Reuters during a video call. “As a community, everybody’s sharing with each other.”
Reder, who has been attending the event for 22 years, said he expected it would take at least two days for the area to dry out. While he was prepared to ride it out, Reder said some attendees are leaving the site on foot and trekking to the nearest highway.
More than 60,000 participants travel to and from the remote area in northwest Nevada every year, according to the event’s website, gathering in the temporary city to make art, dance, and enjoy community. Local media reported there were more than 70,000 “burners” in Black Rock City.
The festival gets its name from its culminating event, the burning of a large wooden structure called the Man on the penultimate night.
The gathering, which originated as a small function in 1986 on a San Francisco beach, is now also attended by celebrities and social media influencers.
With files from The Associated Press